Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Good, Clean Fun

When we set up our annual garden project dates, the Divas of the Dirt don't use July or August for workdays - these months are usually too hot for remodeling a garden - but they're never too hot for fun. Mindy emailed a good plan for last Saturday. Sophia was out of town but the rest of the Divas met for a seminar at the Austin location of Smith & Hawken, leaving the weeds, garden gloves and grubby work clothes at home.This was one of a series of informal talks by manager Zach, a very creative and interesting speaker. The people who'd signed up for the seminar came in before the store opened for business. In some stores you listen to speakers while lined up in rows of metal folding chairs, but this time the audience sat on beautiful patio chairs, couches or in chairs around dining tables - feeling more like guests than customers. This talk was on outdoor entertaining, touching on furniture placement, centerpieces, lighting and fun ideas for using standard patio items in innovative ways. We enjoyed not only the ideas but the presentation as well - Zach's engaging manner and very pleasant voice encouraged audience participation.

In addition to the talk, part of a Southern Living magazine series, we all received a store discount - and found lots of things on the shelves to buy. Zach had mentioned various ways to keep mosquitoes from spoiling a party- I liked the idea of burning small citronella cones so decided to try some. The other Divas bought everything from organic fertilizer to decorative finials to doormats.

Zach will be giving more of these talks in future - he wryly noted that one planned subject for later this summer was watering! We've been in such a rainy period that this seems funny now, but weather here can change really fast - Zach's information may be essential again by late summer. If I hear a date I'll post it here - or you can check with the Austin store, 9901 Capital of Texas Hwy N, phone 512/345-8700.
Not far away, a new restaurant called Mimi's Cafe had opened, and amazingly, neither Buffy nor Karla had been there yet. [Many times the plaster dust is still suspended in the air when Buffy finds a new restaurant.] We headed over to the North Austin member of the national chain and had a great time catching up with the news while marveling at the size of the muffins flavored with blueberries, honey oat, carrot or corn, brought to the table while the Divas waited for breakfast items stuffed with crab.
Our newest Diva told us about this year's Keep Texas Beautiful ornament, planned to honor Ladybird Johnson. A mockup of the ornament had been sent to her this past spring, so Ladybird knew about this honor before she died.

After brunch the Divas parted, with a couple of us heading over to the Domain, a big new shopping & residence development. I hadn't been there before but DivaAnnie wanted me to see the way the planners had used floral and nature themes in designing the walkways for the shops - metal was fashioned into vines and flowers to divide areas, and lots of native plants are mixed into the wide borders and central beds.

We liked these cactus covered in blue mosaic - the blue appears to be glass and I think the surrounding plants are Hesperaloe - also called Red yucca. Since everything is newly planted, we'll need a return visit to see how the look changes as the landscaping matures.

We were amused by a sidewalk crane looming over Sur La Table - years ago I was at the Seattle area branch of this upscale kitchen store so was interested to see that it's now here in North Austin. Who can resist a stroll through this type of store? Not me!
Back at DivaAnnie's, we looked at her Senna tree, probably Senna corymbosa. It was still a small shrub when we worked on DivaAnnie's front garden in 2006, but it's become more treelike, and was opening yellow flowers. Although stores and restaurants were the main destinations, our Saturday ended with that essential touch of chlorophyll!

Signing off as DivaGlinda to post on my other blog as Annie in Austin

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Best Wishes to Julie

Last fall Julie Bonnin, garden writer for the Austin American Statesman, came to spend two project days with us. She then wrote a feature article about our group, telling how the concept worked and showing us in action.

We enjoyed meeting her, and had fun being in the newspaper, getting calls from friends and even seeing the story picked up by other sites. A week ago Julie Bonnin wrote a Saturday column about a new addition to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website, and gave the news that author Felder Rushing will be a speaker at the upcoming Zilker Garden Fest. But this column also had a twist at the end – she’s moving from Austin to Houston.

This link should work for awhile: Julie's Column, A Time of Transition.

Julie, the Divas wish you well in your new home, and hope you have wonderful days in your new garden.

[It's spring in Austin - the photo gives a glimpse of the completed March project. ]

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Diva Diary 2006

The 2006 Diary is now up at the Divas of the Dirt Website, with stories, photos and some pretty good recipes, too!

Here is something that might be fun for Saturday - an event at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center:

Tree Talk and Winter Walk 2007, January 27, 9 am - 5 pm.
Join the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in celebrating our annual Tree Talk & Winter Walk on Saturday, January 27, where we will be helping you in “Barking Up the Right Tree”. Our event features a robust Tree Sale, with more than 80 species from which to choose. Purchase the perfect native tree for your urban landscape. Join us for walks and talks, such as how to identify & maintain native trees, & explore the importance of trees in the urban landscape. The day will include a Tree Planting demonstration, and activities for children & families. Don't forget to stop on by our Gift Store, where children's author Michael Todd will be signing copies of his book Texas State Bird Pageant from noon to 3 p.m. You can also get a 20% discount on selected items while shopping at the store (what a deal)!This one-day free event is packed with organized walks, talks, demonstrations, children’s activities, and useful information on trees including proper tree care, maintenance, planning and landscaping with trees. Join tree experts including: arborist Don Gardner, forester Jim Houser with Texas Forest Service, arborist Guy LeBlanc, and Flo Oxley and Philip Schulze with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center . Also on hand will be participating organizations providing information about their tree related programs: TreeFolks, FireCap, and the Texas Forest Service. Enjoy the Urban-Wildland Interface exhibit, and discover information you can use for landscape planning and maintenance regarding fire safety.Sponsored by KGSR. For more information and schedule, visit our website, at: www.wildflower.org. Stephen Brueggerhoff, Public Programs Manager Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 4801 La Crosse Avenue Austin, TX 78739-1702

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Sugar is one of the original Divas, and although she hasn't been working on the landscape projects with us for a few years, she comes back to visit and we're always glad to see her.
When the Divas held the annual planning breakfast this January, Sugar was there to join in the fun - luckily we held our meeting before the ice came. Just look how thickly that ice formed in Central Austin seen here in a photo sent by Sugar, with a detail from her metal fence.

In Sugar's garden there's also a thorny but beautiful shrub called Flowering Quince - remembered well from one long project day. Sugar took her camera out in the cold and took a photo Deep in the Heart of the Frozen Quince.

Thanks for sharing these, Sugar!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Divas Blog

Welcome to the Divas of the Dirt Garden Blog.

The Divas of the Dirt Website has been online for several years, telling the story of our group of gardening friends. We take turns working on each other's landscapes here in Austin, Texas, making them a little more beautiful while we share meals and have fun together. Our site is full of photos, before-and-after projects, links to local garden organizations and nurseries, and lots of recipes. So why do we need a blog, too?

While our website displays the stories in more graceful form, it's kind of static - and a garden blog can get news out fast. So now - whether it's an event, a sale, or just an announcement of what one of us noticed at a local nursery - we can let you [and each other] in on the news.

In addition, since the website has no provisions for feedback, we're hoping that our garden blog can also be a place for conversations or questions, or just a way for you to say hello.

It's now January, and the 2006 Diva Diary is almost ready for the website. Once it's done and uploaded, I guess that will be my first announcement!